What makes an SD-WAN a real SD-WAN?


SD-WAN is the ‘talk of the town’ and the networking market is flooded with new vendors offering SD-WAN solutions. But what characteristics make an SD-WAN a real SD-WAN that fully delivers on its promises, without limitations?

First of all you have to distinguish between the two types of players in the market. First there are companies that have designed and built their SD-WAN service from scratch, meaning their solutions are entirely SD-WAN ‘by design’. Good examples are pure SD-WAN players such as VeloCloud and Cato Networks. Secondly there is large number of technology vendors that have gained market share in the traditional networking market and extend their existing proposition with SD-WAN features, either by own development or through an acquisition.

How can you choose the best technology vendor for your specific needs in this complex marketplace? This starts with understanding what the four fundamental characteristics of a real SD-WAN solution are.

1. Network control totally separated from underlying connectivity

The SD-WAN solution must have an architecture where the control over the network is completely separated from the underlying connectivity. Independence from the connectivity offers significant advantages in terms of vendor selection, availability, cost and shorter deployment times. On top of that, modern SD-WAN solutions offer unique features to manage end-to-end the performance and quality of the underlying connectivity. Actually these are the key features that help justify the migration from MPLS to an internet based SD-WAN.

2. Cloud by nature

Traditional MPLS networks originally were not designed to support cloud applications and platforms such as Microsoft Office 365 and Azure, SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Salesforce. Modern SD-WAN solutions – which are cloud ‘by nature’ – offer direct connectivity to these cloud services, which helps guarantee high performance for all users worldwide.

3. Cloud based network orchestration

Modern SD-WAN services offer rich functionality for central network orchestration from the cloud. You don’t have to manually program new policies, but you can control them from a user friendly, integrated cloud based dashboard. You have full control over routing as well as other features like for example Quality of Service, Application Profiling and Reporting. Next to that, the cloud based orchestrator enables zero touch deployment. Recently even full embedded web based security has been added to the unique features SD-WAN has to offer, which completes the full range of functionalities required for each and every to be connected site.

4. All in one edge device

Traditional networks require separate appliances for all kinds of WAN functionalities. Native SD-WAN solutions deliver functionality from the cloud to your branch office by using one simple and centrally managed edge device. It enables you to deploy your branch office WAN in minutes: plug in and authenticate – and your branch is up and running without IT involvement on site.

Choose your SD-WAN wisely

Next-generation SD-WAN services and solutions enable enterprises to effectively master the complexity of their application landscape and improve the performance of cloud and legacy applications, while reducing network TCO by 50% or more. We can help you choose the right technology vendor as a very important first step towards achieving those goals. Contact us to discuss your needs, we’re happy to help you!